|Robert Witcher Copeland|
Robert W. Copeland circa 1944
|Born||September 9, 1910|
|Died||August 25, 1973(aged 62)|
|Place of birth||Tacoma, Washington|
|Place of death||Tacoma, Washington|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Naval Reserve|
|Commands held||Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)|
|Battles/wars||Battle off Samar|
|Awards||Presidential Unit Citation|
Copeland was born in Tacoma, Washington. Enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1929, he was commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer in 1935. Copeland practiced law from 1935 until 1940, when he was ordered to active duty during the Navy's pre-World War II expansion. During the war, he commanded Pawtucket (YT-7), Black Douglas (PYc-45), Wyman (DE-38) and Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413).
During the Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944, while commanding Samuel B. Roberts, Lieutenant Commander Copeland led his ship and crew in an attack on superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force. Though his ship was lost, this action helped defeat the Japanese counter-offensive against the Leyte invasion. For this, he was awarded the Navy Cross, and shared the Presidential Unit Citation with the rest of Task Unit 77.4.3
A quote often mis-attributed to him "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.” was actually said by Captain Ernest E. Evans, commanding the U.S.S. Johnston.
Following World War II, Copeland resumed his law career while remaining a member of the Naval Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Robert W. Copeland died at Tacoma, Washington, on August 25, 1973.
[edit | edit source]
- The Battle Off Samar – Taffy III at Leyte Gulf website by Robert Jon Cox
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|